Council OKs waste disposal plan

June 07, 1994|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Sun Staff Writer

The five-member Howard County Council last night unanimously approved a state-mandated garbage disposal plan filled with possibilities but few certainties.

"The main accomplishment of this plan is to establish an integrated approach," John J. O'Hara, head of the county's Bureau of Environmental Services, said after the 5-0 vote. "The old plan was nothing but a landfill."

The plan approved last night includes landfilling as a possibility along with other options including trash incineration, composting and exporting trash from the county.

Mr. O'Hara, whom council members turned to as an expert witness during a 75-minute debate on the plan, said that the first option the county will consider under the plan is a regional approach in which several adjoining jurisdictions would share trash facilities.

What Howard County brings to the bargaining table, he said, is it's Marriottsville landfill. If the landfill continues to be used at its present rate, it would last until 2008, Mr. O'Hara said.

One of the ways to extend the life of the landfill, he said, is to export trash elsewhere. Although Mr. O'Hara said the county has made no commitment to take its trash elsewhere, most council members talked last night as though it had.

Carcinogenic contaminants have been found in test wells at the Marriottsville landfill, but have not shown up in nearby residential wells. Residents say the landfill should be closed and trash exported.

In order to take the trash elsewhere, the county, or a private company, will have to build a holding facility or so-called transfer station where trash will be dumped before being hauled away.

A private company, Browning Ferris Industries, wants to build a 38,000-square-foot transfer station on a site in Elkridge. One of the nine amendments to the plan last night mentioned the Browning Ferris proposal, much to the dismay of Councilman Darrel Drown, R-2nd District.

Mr. Drown objected to the mention of a "specific vendor" in the plan.

Council Chairman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, said the mentioning of Browning Ferris was not intended to favor a particular company, but to streamline the process.

Mr. O'Hara said that specific vendors will have to come before the council sooner or later, adding that the mention of Browning Ferris does not commit the county to using that company.

Mr. Drown was not so sure. He argued that other amendments, although not mentioning the company directly, seemed to commit the county to trash exportation as the preferred way of dealing with trash removal.

The earliest the county could begin exporting its trash, Mr. O'Hara said afterward, is Jan. 1, 1996.

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